Year C: Sixth Sunday of Easter
The Holy Spirit will teach you everything and remind you of all that I told you.
John 14: 23-29
Jesus answered and said to him, “Whoever loves me will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our dwelling with him. Whoever does not love me does not keep my words; yet the word you hear is not mine but that of the Father who sent me. “I have told you this while I am with you. The Advocate, the holy Spirit that the Father will send in my name—he will teach you everything and remind you of all that I told you. Peace, I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give it to you. Do not let your hearts be troubled or afraid. You heard me tell you, ‘I am going away, and I will come back to you.’ If you loved me, you would rejoice that I am going to the Father; for the Father is greater than I. And now I have told you this before it happens, so that when it happens you may believe.
- When are you most aware of God’s spirit dwelling within you? What brings this awareness about?
- When have you experienced a peace or a closeness of God that replaced fear or settled you when you were troubled?
- How do you go about discerning the movement of the Advocate – (The Holy Spirit) in your life? What tells you it is the Spirit?
- Is there anyone in your life whom you need to restore peace with but are avoiding? Where is the resistance coming from and how is God present?
Margaret Nutting Ralph PHD
In this week’s Gospel Jesus is continuing what is called his farewell discourse, his final words to the disciples during his last meal with them on the night before he dies. Today’s passage is Jesus’ response to a question that one of the disciples has asked: “Judas, not the Iscariot, said to him, ‘Master, [then] what happened that you will reveal yourself to us and not to the world?'” (John 14:22). Judas asks this question because Jesus has just assured the disciples, “I will not leave you orphans; I will come to you. In a little while the world will no longer see me, but you will see me, because I live and you will live” (John 14:18-19).
As is so often the case with John’s Gospel, two levels of conversation are taking place at the same time. On the one level, Jesus is talking to his disciples on the night before he dies. On another level, John is talking to his end-of-the-century audience, who are disappointed that Jesus has not yet returned on the clouds of heaven. John wants his contemporaries to realize that the risen Jesus dwells in their midst.
Jesus responds to Judas’s question by saying, “Whoever loves me will keep my word and my Father will love him and we will come to him and make our dwelling with him.” In other words, love is the bond that results in Jesus and the Father dwelling with Jesus’ disciples. The world, those who do not love Jesus or keep his word, will not be able to discern or experience this indwelling. Nevertheless, Jesus and the Father will be present to those who love them.
In addition to his own and the Father’s presence, Jesus promises the disciples that they will receive “the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name….” John’s is the only Gospel that uses the word Advocate, also translated Paraclete, to refer to the Holy Spirit. The word means a helper or counselor. Here Jesus tells his disciples what the role of the Spirit will be: the Holy Spirit “will teach you everything and remind you of all that I told you.”
The disciples were not able to understand the significance of all they experienced when they were with Jesus before his crucifixion. The Holy Spirit will remind the disciples of all that Jesus told them, not just in the sense of helping them recall what Jesus said, but in the sense of helping them understand what they were previously unable to understand.
Next Jesus gives the disciples the gift of peace: “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give it to you.” Although Jesus instructs the disciples not to be troubled or afraid when he leaves them, the disciples are afraid. After the crucifixion they are huddled in a locked room in fear (see John 20:19). As we noted on the second Sunday of Easter, when Jesus appears to them, he once again offers them the gift of peace (see John 20:19, 21).
Jesus tries to comfort the disciples by telling them that although he is going away, he will return. If they love Jesus they will rejoice that he is going to the Father.
Once more we see that love is the key to receiving the gifts that Jesus is offering. Those who love Jesus will experience the presence of Jesus, the Father, and the Spirit. Those who love Jesus will also of Jesus, the Father, and the Spirit.
“My peace I leave with you, my peace I give to you.”
Fr. Michael K. Marsh
Some hearts are troubled and afraid. Some are angry. Some are skeptical and cynical. Some are breaking with compassion, and some are hardening. That’s not a judgment about anyone. It’s simply a recognition of what’s happening and our need for the peace of Jesus. We need his peace within us and between us.
I wish I could tell you that Jesus’ peace will fix situations and make everything better. I can’t. I don’t think that’s what Jesus’ peace does. His peace is not necessarily the absence or cessation of conflict, the resolution of our problems, or unanimity and agreement. His peace is more about what’s going within us than what is going on around us.
I think we all want a solution to situations. For most of us though a solution to conflict or a difficult situation usually means that someone else needs to change what she or he says, does, or believes. Jesus’ peace is not about changing someone else but about changing us. We have no power to change anyone’s heart but our own. Ours is the only heart we can change. I wonder if we are willing to let Jesus’ peace change our hearts.
A heart at peace sees the other as a human being even in the midst of conflict and disagreement. When my heart is at peace the hopes, fears, concerns, and needs of others are as real to me as my own. When my heart is at war, however, the other is an object, issue, obstacle, or irrelevancy to me. (The Abinger Institute, The Anatomy of Peace: Resolving the Heart of Conflict (San Francisco: Berrett-Koehler Publishers, Inc., 2008), 30.)
Will we live with our hearts at peace or at war? That’s the question each one of us must answer, and we do. Every day we answer that question and our answer to that question determines our way of being toward others. How do we want to be toward the other, whether that other is a migrant, a Border Patrol agent, a democrat, a republican, or our president? We can continue arguing with one another about who is right or wrong and what is the right or wrong thing to do “but the deepest way in which we are right or wrong is in our way of being toward others” (Ibid. 57). We want to be right in our way of being towards others. We want to live with a heart at peace. And that’s not always easy. It means we might have to make difficult changes in our thinking, attitudes, speaking, and actions.
Over and over again, Jesus chose to be right in his way of being toward others. He stood with and reached out to those in need.
- He called the apostles to “come away” and “rest for a while” because “they had no leisure even to eat” (Mk. 6:30-32).
- He had compassion on and fed the five thousand when the disciples wanted to send them away to find food for themselves somewhere else (Mt. 14:13-21);
- He identified himself with the hungry, the thirsty, the stranger, the naked, the sick, the imprisoned, and said that what we do or do not do for them is what we do or do not do for him (Mt. 25:31-46).
- He chose to touch those the law declared to be untouchable (Lk. 5:12-13).
- He let his heart and mind be changed about the extent of his ministry and mission by a Syrophoenician woman, a foreigner, an outsider, someone he had called a dog (Mk. 7:24-29).
“Peace, I leave with you; my peace I give to you.” “Do not let your hearts be troubled, and do not let them be afraid.”
This peace that Jesus gives is a call for us to be peace to others, to bring our peace into the midst of chaos and conflict, to live with a heart at peace and be right in our way of being toward others.
What might that look like for you today? Where and with whom is your heart at peace and where and with whom is it at war? What would you need to do or change in order to be right in your way of being toward others?
Selections from Breaking Open the Lectionary: Lectionary Readings in Their Biblical Context for RCIA, Faith Sharing Groups, and Lectors—Cycle C, by Margaret Nutting Ralph, Copyright © 2006 by Margaret Nutting Ralph. Paulist Press, Inc., New York/Mahwah, NJ. Reprinted by permission of Paulist Press, Inc. www.paulistpress.com.
Reflection Excerpt, adapted from Interrupting the Silence, Fr. Michael K. Marsh, used by permission. www.interruptingthesilence.com